Indictments illuminate weird, weird world
By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
Sept. 15, 2002
I spent some time this week reviewing a list of indictments issued by a Lauderdale County grand jury on Aug. 2. Circuit Court officials released the list into the public record on Tuesday.
An indictment for "drive-by shooting" issued against four young men caught my eye. The more I read, the weirder it got.
All these people are presumed innocent until proven guilty but, before my review was over, that indictment had led me to two others a daisy chain of interconnected defendants and victims.
The drive-by shooting happened on Feb. 19. Indictments were issued against: Anthony Edward Evans, 23; Bennie James Nicholson, 29; Daniel Martin Robert, 25; and Dewayne Martin Robert, 20.
Nicholson is a little older than the others, perhaps because he's been in jail since he was 16 years old when he was sentenced to 12 years for firearm/drug trafficking. The court file notes that he had been out of prison for nine months before his alleged involvement in the drive-by shooting.
The two Roberts have the same address and middle name and are, presumably, brothers.
In an unrelated case, the August grand jury indicted Daniel Martin Robert for aggravated assault for allegedly shooting Ronreagus Dremell Cole with a semi-automatic on March 1.
In an affidavit filed by a law enforcement officer, Cole said he was talking with someone on Old Marion Road when Daniel Martin Robert pulled up in a car and started shooting. One bullet reportedly struck Cole in the head.
In the daisy chain's final link, Cole the victim in the alleged aggravated assault was one of 28 people indicted for possession of cocaine. In all, more than 100 people were indicted for alleged drug offenses.
Credit card fraud: The person against whom the most indictments were issued was 45-year-old Patricia Diane Goodwin of Highway Village. Nine separate indictments, encompassing 18 counts, accuse her of identity theft, credit card fraud and mail fraud.
Goodwin allegedly had credit cards issued in other people's names and used them to charge merchandise, mostly at J.C. Penney. She is also accused of ordering cellular phones in other people's names and having them delivered to her apartment.
Her apparent partner in the scheme was 52-year-old Douglas R. McKey, known as "Duck." Four indictments issued against McKey accuse him of using fraudulently-obtained credit cards to charge gas, cigarettes, beer and snacks at convenience stores. The names on these credit cards match names Goodwin allegedly used to have credit cards fraudulently issued.
McKey was indicted as a habitual offender. He has prior convictions for felony DUI and possession and sale of cocaine. If convicted, he'll get the maximum sentence without the possibility of parole.
DUI manslaughter: The grand jury indicted 20-year-old Russell Allen Carr Jr. for DUI manslaughter in connection with the March 24 death of a passenger in his car. Carr is free on bond, and a Circuit Court judge has given him permission to drive pending the outcome of his trial.
Armed robbery: Phillip Charles Todd was sentenced this week in Lauderdale County Circuit Court to a 20-year prison sentence, with five years suspended. Todd is one of two young men indicted for armed robbery in a series of attacks on fast food delivery people last year.
Coming to the courthouse: Attorney Lee Thaggard says the city of Meridian will appeal the Civil Service Commission's order to reinstate former police officer Rita Jack with back pay going all the way back to Sept. 14, 2001. So far, she is not back on the job.
While there may be subtleties of wording and intent that have not been addressed in Jack's situation, the deck is stacked in her favor.
Jack has been essentially "cleared" by two investigative bodies, the CSC and the state auditor, and the city's appeal will be heard in Lauderdale County Circuit Court where a grand jury refused to indict her earlier this year.
It's going to be a hard row to hoe, Lee.